I invited South Florida Beer Blog a.k.a. Dave Crisafi, beer ninja to be a guest presenter in my pairings class at FIU; deviating from the norm of wine I thought it would be fun to have Dave come and talk to the students about all things beer. I’ve known Dave since day one of South Florida Food and Wine (SFFW). Dave was the first blogger to put me on his blogroll; no one had ever heard of SFFW or me for that matter and Dave took the plunge, kind of like dropping the shot into an Irish Car Bomb, he’s just that kind of guy; really cool and really laid back. Unbeknownst to many of us at the time (3 years ago), Dave was also a beer ninja in training, translated, Dave took his passionate hobby of beer and turned it into a lucrative career as Beer Ninja extraordinaire for Fresh Beer/Brown Distributing.
Anyone who knows Dave, knows he’s not the excitable type, he just goes with the flow, and his presentation was very much like that, easy, unassuming and informational. We all learned quite a bit from Dave last night but the one point driven home was how to change your passé perception of beer and discover a whole new appreciation for the evolving beverage. A beer tasting is just like a wine tasting, you taste in a gradient manner from light to heavy. I personally categorize beers three ways; 1) a drinking beer, one that can easily be consumed and doesn’t need food 2) a sipping beer, one that is robust and requires time to sit back and enjoy it, think cognac here. and 3) a pairing beer, one that needs food.
We tasted five beers starting with Blue Point Toasted Lager, a mild, medium bodied beer with trace hop bitterness. I liked this beer, this for me is a drinking beer; ice cold 2 or 3 on a hot day. Next in the lineup was a local favorite, Monk in the Trunk from Jupiter, Florida. I really liked this one, another easy drinking beer, medium bodied, no food required, just the desire to drink. And the last of the drinking beers, border-lining pairing for me was the canned, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale. There is a lot of pine and citrus notes in this beer that came right at me, but not so overwhelming that I didn’t enjoy it. To fully enjoy this beer I need food to mellow out the composition; it worked well with the pairing of blue cheese and roasted chicken.
Moving right along, we progressed to the Victory Golden Monkey. I don’t favor the combination of sweet and savory. At all. Not in my food and not in my beverages. I really prefer to keep salt away from sugar. My first sip of this strong pale ale assaulted me with spice; because of my sensitivity to anything remotely sweet and savory my tastebuds go on high alert. After the first taste I said out loud, “ooh, cinnamon, nutmeg, spice” and Dave said, ” it’s coriander.” To my reply, “I want to pair this with an oatmeal cookie.” Dave said “try the Gouda cheese with it”. Nope, didn’t work for me, I need that oatmeal cookie.
And closing out the night was the tall, dark and handsome Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown from Tampa, Florida. The first thing I said, once again out loud, ” Oh this one will take you all the way home, this is a dessert beer. Chocolate cake” Dave just smiled. When I’m at a tasting I automatically go into pairing mode. The relationship between food and drink helps me remember the finer nuances of what I’ve had to drink and eat, with the outcome being similar to a marriage made in heaven, a friendship or some ghastly experience standing in line at the grocery store. The Maduro could be a sipping beer for some, and I could sip it too, but the overwhelming desire to pair this hunky ale with chocolate cake wins out for me.
So next up, South Florida Beer Blog and South Florida Food and Wine is planning their long over due, He said beer, She said wine event. Stay tuned and until then, drink good beer.